Firefighters climb Everest in mammoth charity day event

Firefighters Scott Avery and Jonny Bennett with Lesley Wenden, Mike and Julie Morell and Hilary Frost from the Lifehouse charity.
Picture: Vernon Nash
Firefighters Scott Avery and Jonny Bennett with Lesley Wenden, Mike and Julie Morell and Hilary Frost from the Lifehouse charity. Picture: Vernon Nash
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FIREFIGHTERS joined forces to complete a mammoth charity task over the weekend, climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest for a very special cause.

Blue watch at Southsea fire station enlisted the help of fellow colleagues to face the test of endurance, which shoppers witnessed at Gunwharf Quays on Saturday.

The event was held in aid of homeless charity The Lifehouse and The Fire Fighters Charity.

The team of 20 firefighters and friends used two 13.5m ladders and a pole and, in a continuous loop, kept on climbing until they had climbed the equivalent of Mount Everest – 8,840m (29,030ft).

Firefighter Vince Nicoll said: ‘In total we will have gone up and down the ladder 2,500 times. We’ve had great weather and the public have been so supportive.

‘We’re hoping to raise £2000 but we won’t be counting the money until tomorrow. It’s the first ladder climb that we’ve done in some time. We’re pleased to be supporting some great local causes.

‘Some of the firefighter’s wives have worked closely with The Lifehouse charity for years, helping out at the headquarters or donating food, so we’re just happy that we can show our support and draw in the public’s attention like this.

‘We didn’t do any particular prep before the event today. If my team couldn’t go up and down the ladder then something must be wrong.’

As well as Gunwharf offering to host the event, which ran from 10am to 4pm, city businessman Kevin Bungay from Essential Scaffolding put up the structure used in the climb in the early hours – all for free.

Lesley Wenden, manager of Lifehouse, was stunned by the efforts of the firefighting fundraisers.

Lesley, who has worked with the foundation for more than four years, said she was approached by Vince about the charity bash.

She said: ‘The support they have given us has been amazing. It means so much.

‘Some of the people we help are really desperate. They are homeless and they need that support.

‘We’re really helping to transform their lives. They know we’re here every week for them.’

The Lifehouse is based in Albert Road, Southsea.

Every Thursday they provide a free soup kitchen for about 40 to 50 homeless people. They also offer a drop-in service on Wednesday mornings.

The Fire Fighters Charity offers support to firefighters and their families and rehabilitation to injured members of the service.